BULLS – AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : WISCONSIN
By Leo Haggerty

If someone told you that the only thing that went right for South Florida in their opener at Raymond James Stadium was that they won the coin toss, they may not be exaggerating.  Not much went right for the Green & Gold as they had to endure a 49-0 shellacking at the hands of the 19th ranked Wisconsin Badgers.

Normally, I would wait to post the entire article but what we have decided to do is post the photos of the game as soon as possible and then add the commentary of coaches and players soon afterwards.  This gives you, the readers, a head start on what transpired.

The commentary I will be adding is from my questions to HC Charlie Williams along with OT Willaim Atterbury (#78) plus QB Blake Barnett (11) who are included in the photo collage below.  What those three people said pretty much described what took place in the opener for both teams.

LH : On offense and defense, did Wisconsin do anything that you weren’t expecting?

CS : No they didn’t.  We knew they were going to run the football.  Their first drive they get the big run.  We didn’t fit the play right and he bounced it outside.  Caught us for a long run.  That’s a teams that’s going to line up and run the football.  With their defense, we knew they would have an outside rusher.  The bottom line is, if you’re looking at a game, it’s won or lost up front.  Their offensive line was able to move our defensive line.  They created some cracks and seams to run through.  Plus, their defensive front put pressure on our quarterback.  We couldn’t rush the football.  I think we had nine yards on the ground.  You can’t win a game playing like that especially against a good football team.

LH : One of the hardest thing for a coach is to make sure one loss doesn’t become two.  After you show this film do you just bury it or how do you deal with the loss?

CS : They have to see this film.  So does the coaching staff.  Both sides of the ball.  We have to see this film.  We have to find out what our guys can do and where they’re at.  A lot of times, when you put something in on offense or on defense, you may be giving them too much.  Sometimes, you don’t give them a lot and you just execute.  Wisconsin just ran outside zone and power.  That’s the two plays they ran.  It was outside zone and stretch play and power.  You have to figure out what you can do and then go do it.  So, when you do have issues, you can fix those issues.  So now, you’re not just reaching into the bag and pulling a play out.  It has to be this is what we are and this is who we are.

LH : How frustrating was it that you couldn’t get Wilcox and St. Felix open?

CS : It was really frustrating.  Not just for those two but for others too.  We couldn’t get the passing game going because we were unable to run the football.  We couldn’t run the ball so, like I said, they locked us down.  We got no separation and, when that happens, you’re just not going to make the plays.

LH : Could you have had too long to prepare for this game?

CS : Oh no.  Did you see what just happened? I wish I had two more weeks to prepare.  The preparation was there.  We just showed that it wasn’t too long a wait to play Wisconsin.  It wasn’t long enough.

LH : As an offensive lineman, when the defensive end know you can’t run the ball and he can just come full bore, that’s a touch job, isn’t it?

WA : I think there were a lot of things that we weren’t doing correctly in the running or passing game on the offensive line.  When rushers pin their ears back like they did, you have to absolutely do your best. That falls on the offensive line, first and foremost, and we have to get that fixed.

LH : It seemed like once it started to snowball downhill you couldn’t stop it.  Was that the case?

WA : I don’t necessarily think so.  There were a lot of turning points in the game where we could have got momentum to switch the other way.  A dropped pass here or a sack there.  Obviously, a lot of that falls on the offensive line but it seemed like one player, each drive, had their own mistake that cost us the drive.

LH : Did Wisconsin do anything special to take away Wilcox and St. Felix?

BB : I don’t think so.  I think they just did what they did last year and they did it well.  We weren’t surprised by anything they did and that’s not to disregard them at all.  They do what they do well and they pride themselves on being a very disciplined team.  It’s like I said, we had chances to take advantage of what we had but we just didn’t.

LH : You talk about frustration.  Was that because it wasn’t the same guy making mistakes but a different guy almost every play?

BB : Lots of things.  This whole game was really frustrating.  It wasn’t one thing more than another.  Like Coach Strong said, it’s a learning lesson.  It’s something we need to hang our hat on and keep with us the rest of the season.  If anything, we need to learn from last year that if we have a bad game we need to bounce back.  Now it’s time for us to prove we know how to do that.

LH : Was there a point in the game where you felt it was getting away from you?

BB : I didn’t look at it in that aspect.  Every time we go on to the field we are trying to score, myself included.  Every time I’m on the field I want to score.  I want to score touchdowns.  I don’t want to settle for field goals but we weren’t able to do that tonight.

LH : Everybody talks about the Wisconsin offense.  That defense isn’t to bad, is it?

BB : Like I said before, they do what they do and they do it well and they’re disciplined.

There you have it.  Not a lot of good things to talk about but the Bulls get to make amends this Saturday when the Green and Gold travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech.

That’s the nice thing about football.  You don’t have long to celebrate or sulk before the next opponent comes up.

Finally, all 33 photos are by photo-journalist Trace Crisp.  Enjoy.